Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Oakland councilmember blasts mayor, police, fire for doing little to limit rising overtime costs

Oakland Councilmember Annie Campbell
Washington doubts the city administration
is serious about reducing overtime hours for 
its public safety employees.
Oakland's overtime budget for the police and fire departments is bursting at the seams, leading one normally reserved councilmember Tuesday to unleash a litany of strong criticisms against not only each public safety department's leadership, but also city staff and Mayor Libby Schaaf.

"To me, this seems like a 23-page report that explains to us why we have to continue to see overtime at the same rate that we've always seen it," Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington said during an Oakland City Council Finance Committee meeting Tuesday that included a report on public safety overtime budgets.

The total overtime budget is projected to be in the red by more than $38 million, according to report offered by Oakland Finance Director Katano Kasaine. The 2017-18 fiscal year budget allots only $14.8 million for overtime.

The Oakland Fire Department makes up the bulk of the increase in overtime this year with a projected amount of $22.3 million. The city only budgeted $1.2 million for the fiscal year. Oakland Police, meanwhile, was set aside $12.4 million for overtime. It's projected to reach $29.9 million this fiscal year.

Campbell Washington said city staff appeared less than serious about combating the alarming increase in overtime expenditures. "It is incredibly important. it's one of the biggest drivers of spending in our city and we cannot seem to get a handle on it and I don't have any confidence that we are even trying to get a handle on it from this report," she said.

As far as the Fire Department is concerned, Katane noted its ranks are short on personnel, therefore, necessitating increased overtime. "Unless we change how they do business, overtime will not change." It's a similar refrain heard recently from the Oakland firefighters union in an effort to add new employees.

Assistant Chief of Police John Lois told the Finance Committee that, in effect, the city's success in reducing crime recently comes at premium. "That's not an excuse," he said. "That's reality." Nevertheless, the department's leadership is constantly applying pressure on supervisors to limit overtime, he said.

Nevertheless, Campbell Washington appeared nonplussed by the responses and later laid blame on Schaaf and the City Administrator's office. "It actually has to be something the mayor and city administrator want to see happen, otherwise, it won't," she conceded, and referred to the entire matter as a farce if the mayor and city administrator are not already telling the chiefs to reduce overtime.

"If that's the strategy were trying to achieve, we're doing a great job," Campbell Washington said, in reference to the overtime rates. "If were' trying to reduce our expenditures in overtime, we're not doing a great job."


  1. Ann should handle her politics internally ,also it would be appropriate to offer a solution!!great teamwork ? Marty Frates

  2. Every captain in the OFD should have to explain every hour of OT to the Chief on a weekly basis and then the Chief should explain the OT to the City Manager. The City Manager should explain why the OT instead of hiring to meet the demand. If the City Manager cannot win this then Oakland needs a new one. If the Mayor and the Council cannot get behind this then the voters need to get new members who understand that OT means fewer jobs to new people. Vote Smart Folks. Get rid of the OT and the featherbedding that goes with it.

  3. By MW:

    Let's not discuss specifically Oakland FD overtime, but instead the total expense of running the Oakland FD. For instance, there is a guy who lives a few blocks from me who was a captain in the OFD.

    I said WAS, since I believe he retired a few years ago. Every now and then I bump into him, and including at public meetings, and including back when he was still an active employee of the OFD, and I cannot recall even one single time I have seen him that he did not appear to be extremely drunk or suffering from a hangover.

    A few years ago back when he was an active OFD captain, his salary was 145K per year, and considering his level of "intelligence" and sobriety, even if he had been paid only fourteen cents per year he still would have been extremely overpaid.

    A few weeks ago on one of the major Bay area evening news stations, they interviewed the head of the OFD, and who said that if a firefighter sees a fire safety issue EVEN WHEN HE IS OFF DUTY he still should report it.

    Well, within less than one thousand feet of that character's house you can see tons of houses that have tree branches closely overhanging, and in some cases even resting on, house roofs, but evidently that drunk is too stupid to even realize that does not constitute fifteen feet of defensible space.

    And just in case he decides to lie about it and insist he does not normally leave his house, one of his favorite activities is going bicycling with his grandchildren.

    In fact one time when I was driving on Hesperian Blvd I happened to glance at a McDonalds I was passing by, and he was sitting at a window table inside with a young child, most likely one of his grandsons.

    In other words, he gets out and around.

    So as to save money AND ALSO INCREASE EFICIENCY, the Oakland Fire Dept should cut its crew of firefighters by more than fifty percent by only hiring and retaining people who are neither alcoholics nor mental retards. Doing so would also greatly lessen the probability of having another GREAT OAKLAND HILLS FIRE or GHOST SHIP FIRE.

  4. By MW:

    As of right now there are various people already suing the city of Oakland related to the recent fires in which there was considerable loss of life.

    I wonder whether any of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs will allege that the Oakland Fire Department is a big boys club of jokers, total incompetents, extremely lazy people, professional pathological liars, and extreme alcoholics so totally worthless, that therefore even if they were paid even only the $1.60 per hour minimum wage that was in effect a few decades ago, they would still be extremely overpaid.